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PSYCHOLOGY 



ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE 

published: 25 March 2014 
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00212 



Attention to advertising and memory for brands under 
alcohol intoxication 

Jacob L Orquin 1 *, Heine B. Jeppesen 1 , Joachim Scholderer 1 and Curtis Haugtvedt 2 

' Department of Business Administration - MAPP, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark 
2 Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA 



Edited by: 

Jaana Simola, University of Helsinki, 
Finland 

Reviewed by: 

Susanne Kristen, Ludwig Maximilian 
University of Munich, Germany 
Emily Catherine Higgins, University of 
California, San Diego, USA 

'Correspondence: 

Jacob L. Orquin, Department of 
Business Administration - MAPP, 
Aarhus University, Bartholins Alle 10, 
8000 Aarhus C, Denmark 
e-mail: jalo@asb. dk 



In an attempt to discover new possibilities for advertising in uncluttered environments 
marketers have recently begun using ambient advertising in, for instance, bars and 
pubs. However, advertising in such licensed premises have to deal with the fact that 
many consumers are under the influence of alcohol while viewing the ad. This paper 
examines the effect of alcohol intoxication on attention to and memory for advertisements 
in two experiments. Study 1 used a forced exposure manipulation and revealed increased 
attention to logos under alcohol intoxication consistent with the psychopharmacological 
prediction that alcohol intoxication narrows attention to the more salient features in the 
visual environment. Study 2 used a voluntary exposure manipulation in which ads were 
embedded in a magazine. The experiment revealed that alcohol intoxication reduces 
voluntary attention to ads and leads to a significant reduction in memory for the viewed 
ads. In popular terms consuming one or two beers reduces brand recall from 40 to 36% 
while being heavily intoxicated further reduces brand recall to 17%. 



Keywords: advertising, eye movements, alcohol intoxication, memory, brand recall 



INTRODUCTION 

Our world is cluttered with visual information. Since our atten- 
tion capacity is limited, we can only process objects we encounter 
during a day to varying degrees of depth - sometimes pro- 
cessing extensively and other times at a very superficial level. 
A working assumption of most marketers is that more exten- 
sive processing should result in more positive outcomes for the 
advertised object or issue. Perhaps as a consequence of increased 
advertising clutter (Pieters etal, 2007) or consumer antagonism 
to traditional advertising (Jensen etal., 2014) a variety of non- 
traditional advertising strategies have been suggested as ways 
to get consumers to pay attention to and process advertise- 
ments more extensively. Many strategies have involved attempts 
to increase the salience of the advertising stimulus by placing 
it in uncluttered environments. One such strategy is to adver- 
tise in licensed premises, using different types of media such as 
restroom advertisements, promotional beer mats, and pub TV 
systems. The low density of advertisements in licensed premises 
could suggest that such a strategy might indeed be successful 
(Pieters etal., 2007). However, proponents of this strategy have 
to contend with the fact that customers in licensed premises 
consume alcohol. Research on the psychopharmacological effects 
of alcohol has demonstrated serious impairments at perceptual 
and post-perceptual stages of information processing, including 
impairments of attention functions such as object recognition 
(Maylor etal, 1987), allocation of resources to stimulus analy- 
sis and response selection (Pickworth et al., 1997; De Cesarei et al., 
2006) and conceptual processing functions such as encoding and 
elaboration (Hashtroudi etal., 1983; Saults etal., 2007; Soderlund 
et al., 2007). In general, these impairments result in (a) a narrow- 
ing of visual attention to the most salient features in a complex 



stimulus (b) shallow processing of conceptual information and 
(c) memory loss. 

In the context of advertising exposure under the influence 
of alcohol, it can therefore be expected that ad elements which 
are predominantly processed by perceptual mechanisms, such 
as logos and images, will have a selective advantage over ad 
elements that are predominantly processed by conceptual mech- 
anisms, such as headlines and text blocks. It furthermore seems 
plausible that alcohol intoxication will have a detrimental effect 
on brand recall although the strength of such an effect is prob- 
ably moderated by attention to important ad elements like the 
logo. To the best of our knowledge, no research on the influ- 
ence of alcohol consumption and reactions to advertising has 
been reported. The current research is an exploration of how var- 
ious levels of alcohol might influence perception of advertising 
messages. While the current research focuses on traditional prod- 
uct advertising, the procedures and results of this research may 
have implications for the way individuals react to various pub- 
lic and personal safety messages under varying degrees of alcohol 
consumption. 

STUDY 1 

Study 1 addressed the question of how alcohol intoxication affects 
visual attention to ad elements. As suggested above, psychophar- 
macological effects of alcohol intoxication such as a narrowing of 
the attention span to salient stimuli might translate well into adver- 
tising perception to mean that intoxicated consumers will focus 
more on perceptual ad elements like the logo or the image. How- 
ever, the degree of attention to perceptual versus conceptual ad 
elements is likely to depend on the balance between perceptual and 
conceptual elements in the visual scene (Wedel and Pieters, 2007; 



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Orquin etal., 2013a; Peschel and Orquin, 2013). To test whether 
the effect of alcohol on attention to advertising depends on the bal- 
ance between perceptual and conceptual elements, we conducted 
an eye tracking experiment manipulating the perceptual and con- 
ceptual load of advertisements. Eye tracking provides an objective 
measure of eye movements which is a reliable indicator of overt 
visual attention (Orquin and Mueller Loose, 2013). 

METHODS 

Participants 

Thirty six undergraduate and graduate business students with spe- 
cializations other than marketing or corporate communications 
were recruited on campus for participation in the study. Their 
mean age was 23.87 years (SD = 1.83), 36% were female. 

Experimental design 

Two factors of the advertising stimuli were varied: (1) brand 
(12 levels, representing consumer goods, services, and corporate 
brands) and (2) perceptual and conceptual load (three levels: high 
perceptual load with a dominance of pictorial elements, high per- 
ceptual and conceptual load with a balance between pictorial and 
text elements, and high conceptual load with a dominance of text 
elements). Pretesting was used to determine these levels. The two 
factors were completely crossed in the master design, resulting 
in 36 stimuli. The design was then blocked in such a way that 
each participant was exposed to all twelve levels of the first factor, 
brand, and at equal proportions of the levels of the second factor, 
perceptual and conceptual load. 

Materials and measures 

The 36 experimental ads were developed using a graphic design 
software and were all based on existing market stimuli. All ads 
used color and were displayed in a similar size on a 21 inch color 
screen. 

For ethical reasons we decided not to manipulate the blood 
alcohol concentration (BAC) of our participants. Instead we 



measured the BAC levels of already sober and intoxicated par- 
ticipants using a digital breathalyzer. BAC levels ranged between 
0% (sober) and 0. 164% (heavily intoxicated), with a mean level of 
0.056% (SD = 0.054). 

Measures of visual attention were obtained by means of eye 
tracking (Tobii 2150, frame rate: 50 frames per second). Three 
measures of eye movements were extracted from the eye tracker 
logs for each major ad element (headline, logo, image, text) in each 
ad: time to first fixation on the ad element, number of fixations 
before the first fixation on the element occurred (both measured 
from stimulus onset), and total fixation time to each ad element. 

Procedure 

All participants were recruited in the university student club in 
the late afternoon and evening hours and accompanied to the 
lab facilities by the experimenter. Before the experiment started, 
each participant's BAC was tested using a digital breathalyzer. Par- 
ticipants were positioned in front of the eye tracker and after 
calibration and a series of training stimuli each participant was 
randomly assigned to a block of 12 advertising stimuli. Each stim- 
ulus was presented for 10 sec thus creating a competition for 
attention among the ad elements (Orquin and Scholderer, 2011). 
After the experiment participants were thanked and accompanied 
back to the student club. 

RESULTS 

To test the hypothesis that alcohol intoxication influences the 
salience of logos we analyzed the effect of BAC on eye move- 
ments to the four major ad elements (headline, logo, image, text) 
by means of Cox regression. The models were specified in such 
a way that the effects of BAC were estimated separately within 
levels perceptual and conceptual load, controlling for brand and 
stratified by participant. Instances where a participant had not fix- 
ated on an ad element were defined as censored events. Likelihood 
ratio tests of the significance of the alcohol effect are reported in 
Table 1. 



Table 1 | Effect of blood alcohol concentration on the visual salience of ad elements (headline, logo, image, text) under different levels of 
perceptual and conceptual load. 









Dependent variable 








Fixations before 


Time to first fixation 


Perceptual and conceptual load 


Ad element 


LR x 2 df 


P 


LR x 2 df 


P 


High perceptual load (dominance of pictorial elements) 


Headline 


1.116 1 


0.291 


1.966 1 


0.161 




Logo 


5.841 1 


0.016 


0.010 1 


0.921 




Image 


0.020 1 


0.886 


3.516 1 


0.061 


High perceptual and conceptual load (balance 


Headline 


0.029 1 


0.865 


0.050 1 


0.822 


between pictorial and text elements) 


Logo 


9.541 1 


0.002 


0.721 1 


0.396 




Image 


0.800 1 


0.371 


1.016 1 


0.313 




Text block 


1.700 1 


0.192 


0.251 1 


0.616 


High conceptual load (dominance of text elements) 


Headline 


0.942 1 


0.332 


3.815 1 


0.051 




Logo 


6.574 1 


0.010 


1.939 1 


0.164 




Text block 


2.820 1 


0.093 


5.041 1 


0.025 



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Attention to advertising under alcohol intoxication 



The analysis revealed that increased alcohol intoxication led to 
a significant amplification of the salience of the logo. A general 
reduction was observed in the number of fixations to other ad 
elements that occurred before participants fixated on the logo for 
the first time. Cumulative probabilities for the first fixation on the 
logo are plotted in Figure 1. 

The effect of alcohol intoxication on salience of the logo 
was not moderated by the degree of perceptual and concep- 
tual load in the advertisements. The amplification of salience 
also occurred in the high perceptual load condition, ruling 
out the alternative explanation that the effect could have been 



an artifact, caused by a reduction in conceptual information 
processing. 

This is not to say that impairments of conceptual processing 
did not occur. In the high conceptual load condition, alcohol 
intoxication led to significant increases in the time before the first 
fixations on headline and text block occurred (see Table 1), sug- 
gesting a slowing-down of the conceptual information processing 
mechanisms. Furthermore, additional analyses revealed that alco- 
hol intoxication led to significant decreases in the accumulated 
number of times participants fixated on the headline (Wald 
X 2 [l] =9.313, p = 0.002) and text block (Wald x 2 [l] = 11.094, 




Fixation number 

(in fixation sequence) 



FIGURE 1 | Cumulative probabilities of fixating the logo for intoxicated participants (mean BAC = 0.102%, SD = 0.032) relative to sober participants. 



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Attention to advertising under alcohol intoxication 



p = 0.001). No such effects were found for the visual elements, 
logo and image. 

Table 2 provides an overview of the effect of alcohol intox- 
ication on eye movements to ad elements for three levels of 
alcohol intoxication: sober (BAC = 0%), intoxicated (BAC > 0% 
and < 0.02%), and heavily intoxicated (BAC > 0.02%). The table 
contains three metrics the first of which is fixation likelihood which 
is the probability that a participant fixates an ad element, the sec- 
ond is total fixation time which is the average time participants 
spent viewing ad elements taking into account both the number 
and duration of fixations. The total fixation time is not conditional 
on participants having fixated the ad element. Trials in which a 
participant did not fixate the ad element are counted as zero total 
fixation time. The third metric, fixations before, is the average 
number of fixations that participants have to other ad elements 
before fixating the target element. 

DISCUSSION 

The aim of the first study was to assess how visual attention to 
advertisements may be affected by alcohol intoxication. Based on 
established psychopharmacological findings, we hypothesized that 
the salience of the perceptual elements in complex advertisements 
would be selectively increased under conditions of alcohol intox- 
ication, whereas the processing of conceptual information would 
be impaired. The results support our hypothesis, but in a more 
specific manner than originally expected: the selective increase 
in visual salience was only observed for logos (either brand or 
corporate) but not for other pictorial elements such as represen- 
tations of products or human models. Additionally, we found 
the increased salience of logos was reflected in fixations before 
but not in time to first fixation. The only difference between 
the two metrics is that time to first fixation take the duration 



Table 2 | Fixation likelihood, total fixation time and fixations before to 
the four add elements according to three levels of intoxication: sober 
(BAC = 0%), intoxicated (BAC < 0.02%), heavily intoxicated 
(BAC < 0.169%). 



Sober Intoxicated Heavily intoxticated 



Fixation likelihood 


Logo 


0.73 


0.67 


0.74 


Heading 


0.97 


0.92 


0.88 


Text 


1.00 


1.00 


0.98 


Image 


1.00 


0.99 


0.98 


Total fixation time 


Logo 


0.77 


0.65 


0.88 


Heading 


1.95 


1.66 


1.55 


Text 


6.36 


5.89 


5.56 


Image 


4.68 


3.99 


4.29 


Fixations before 


Logo 


13.76 


13.94 


10.75 


Heading 


3.24 


3.79 


3.72 


Text 


3.32 


3.16 


3.08 


Image 


0.61 


0.78 


1.47 



of individual fixations into account. Finding an effect for fixa- 
tions before but not for time to first fixation therefore suggests 
that although intoxicated participants had fewer fixations before 
fixating the logo the duration of their fixations were longer than 
for sober participants. This interpretation seems consistent with 
the general finding that alcohol intoxication slows down cognitive 
processing. 

The results suggest that "reminder" advertisements, primarily 
intended to increase the accessibility of the brand in the mind of 
the customer, will be effective in environments that involve the 
consumption of alcohol. Advertisements that intend to persuade, 
on the other hand, are likely to suffer. 

Although the results confirm and extend psychopharmaco- 
logical findings in the area of advertisement perception the 
interpretation may be limited due to the use of forced exposure to 
advertising stimuli. In Study 2 we address this issue by employing 
a voluntary exposure paradigm in which participants voluntarily 
fixate the advertising stimuli. 

STUDY 2 

Study 2 examined the effect of alcohol intoxication on the dis- 
tribution of attention to ads and ad elements as well as brand 
recall in a voluntary ad exposure paradigm. Whereas Study 1 used 
a forced exposure paradigm, Study 2 employed a procedure that 
more realistically simulated voluntary attention to ads in real life 
situations. The ads were embedded in a consumer magazine con- 
sistent with previous eye tracking research on voluntary attention 
to ads (Pieters etal, 2002, 2007; Pieters and Wedel, 2004). Such 
a procedure minimizes demand characteristics and furthermore 
allows assessment of whether alcohol intoxication has an influence 
on overall attention to ads. Study 2 used the same experimen- 
tal design as Study 1 except that all experimental stimuli were 
embedded in a magazine. 

METHODS 

Participants 

Thirty six undergraduate and graduate business students with spe- 
cializations other than marketing or corporate communications 
were recruited on campus for participation in the experiment. 
The mean age was 22.97 years (SD = 1.73), 44.5% were female. 

Experimental design 

The experimental design was identical to that in Study 1 manip- 
ulating the conceptual and perceptual load of ads for 12 different 
brands. The 36 experimental ads were blocked in three groups and 
inserted in a consumer magazine. 

Materials and measures 

The experimental stimuli consisted of 36 ads identical to those in 
Study 1. The ads were embedded in a consumer magazine with an 
even distribution of ad compositions and in a fixed order result- 
ing in three different versions of the magazine. Each ad occupied 
an entire page in the magazine. As in Study 1 measures of BAC 
were obtained using a digital breathalyzer. BAC levels ranged from 
0 to 0.169% (heavily intoxicated) with a mean level of 0.55% 
(SD = 0.53). Eye movements were recorded on the same eye 
tracker as in Study 1 and identical eye movement metrics were 
extracted from the log. Additionally, measures of brand recall were 



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Attention to advertising under alcohol intoxication 



obtained from participants using a cued recall procedure. Brand 
recall was measured one day after the laboratory test. 

Procedure 

All participants were recruited in the school's student club in the 
late afternoon and evening hours. Participants were accompanied 
to the lab facilities by the experimenter. Before the experiment 
started, each participant's BAC was measured using a digital 
breathalyzer. Participants were positioned in front of the eye 
tracker and after the individual calibration of the eye tracker, the 
participants were randomly assigned to one of the three experi- 
mental blocks. Participants were informed that they could browse 
through the magazine at their own pace and the test ended when 
the participants reached the final page in the magazine. The mag- 
azine was presented one page at a time with each ad occupying an 
entire page. Participants were not informed about the purpose of 
the experiment. After the experiment participants were thanked 
and accompanied back to the student club. The day after the eye 
tracking study each participant received a questionnaire measur- 
ing cued brand recall. Sixty- four percent of the participants replied 
to the brand recall questionnaire. 

RESULTS 

The first step in the analysis addressed the question of whether 
alcohol intoxication had any effect on advertising attention cap- 
ture (whether the ad or ad element was fixated or not) . The analysis 
was carried out by means of a generalized estimating equation with 
a logit link function and a binomial response distribution using 
attention capture as dependent variable and ad element (logo, 
headline, text, image, entire ad), ad version (perceptual load, con- 
ceptual load, mixed conceptual and perceptual load), and BAC 
as independent variables in a full factorial design. The results are 
reported in Table 3 below. 

In order to interpret the results we extracted descriptive statis- 
tics for the effect of alcohol intoxication on attention capture 
to ad elements. Similar to Study 1, participants were grouped 
into three levels of alcohol intoxication: sober (BAC = 0%), 
intoxicated (BAC > 0% and <0.02%), and heavily intoxi- 
cated (BAC > 0.02%). The descriptive statistics are shown in 
Table 4. 

It is clear from Table 4 that alcohol intoxication has a negative 
effect on attention capture for all ad elements including the ad 



itself. The decrement in attention capture is particularly strong for 
logos, which is surprising given the results of Study 1. 

In the second step of the analysis we examined the effect of 
alcohol intoxication on fixation count to ad elements. Fixation 
count is the number of times the participant fixates on a stimulus 
and can be used as an indicator for the strength of interest in a 
stimulus or as an indicator of confusion. The analysis was car- 
ried out by means of a linear mixed model using fixation count as 
dependent variable and ad element, ad version, brand, and BAC 
as independent variables. The analysis revealed a significant effect 
of ad version, f (2,875.55) = 5.42, p < 0.01, a significant effect of 
brand, F(l 1,875.73) = 3.44, p < 0.01, a significant effect of ad ele- 
ment, P(3,880.09) = 31.08, p < 0.01, and a significant interaction 
effect between BAC and ad element, F (3,881.79) = 2.88, p < 0.05. 
The interaction effect between BAC and ad element is illustrated 
in Figure 2. 

It is clear from Figure 2 that alcohol intoxication does not 
have any effects on fixation count except for the text element 
for which fixation count increases as a function of BAC. How- 
ever, the effect of alcohol intoxication on fixation count to the 
text element does not necessarily mean that intoxicated partic- 
ipants read more of the ad copy relative to sober participants. 
An alternative and perhaps more plausible interpretation is that 
alcohol intoxication has a detrimental effect on reading abilities 
which necessitates more fixations to process the same amount of 
text. 

In the last step of the analysis we examined the effect of alcohol 
intoxication on brand recall. The analysis was carried out by means 
of a generalized estimating equation with a logit link function and 
a binomial response distribution using ad recall as dependent vari- 
able and BAC and ad attention capture as independent variables. 
The results are reported in Table 5. 

The analysis revealed that alcohol intoxication has a signifi- 
cant negative effect on brand recall (Model 1) although the effect 
diminishes when controlling for ad attention capture (Model 2). 
Having shown in step 1 of the analysis that alcohol intoxication 
has a significant negative effect on attention capture for the entire 
ad, it should be clear that the negative effect of alcohol intoxication 
on brand recall is partially mediated by attention capture. In other 
words, alcohol intoxication significantly diminishes brand recall, 
but only a part of this effect is due to memory loss another part is 
due to reduced ad attention capture. 



Table 3 | Effects of ad version, ad element and blood alcohol concentration on attention capture. 



Effect Wald Chi-Square df Significance Goodness-of-fit 



Intercept 


163.936 


1 


0.000 


Ad version 


23.717 


2 


0.000 


Ad element 


150.785 


4 


0.000 


BAC 


9.562 


1 


0.002 


Ad version x Ad element 


42.664 


6 


0.000 


Ad version x BAC 


9.983 


2 


0.007 


Ad element x BAC 


15.575 


4 


0.004 


Ad version x Ad element x BAC 


19.447 


6 


0.003 



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Table 4 | Fixation likelihood, total fixation time and fixations before to 
the four add elements and the entire ad according to three levels of 
intoxication: sober (BAC = 0%), intoxicated (BAC > 0% and < 0.02%), 
heavily intoxicated (BAC > 0.02%). 





Sober 


Intoxicated 


Heavily intoxticated 


Fixation likelihood 


Logo 


0.56 


0.57 


0.27 


Heading 


0.90 


0.93 


0.76 


Text 


0.88 


0.92 


0.72 


Image 


0.93 


0.94 


0.86 


Entire add 


1.00 


0.99 


0.95 


Total fixation time 


Logo 


0.31 


0.28 


0.31 


Heading 


0.24 


0.23 


0.28 


Text 


0.35 


0.35 


0.36 


Image 


0.27 


0.29 


0.28 


Entire add 


0.25 


0.26 


0.27 


Fixations before 


Logo 


31.34 


27.84 


33.96 


Heading 


15.64 


11.52 


8.65 


Text 


23.10 


24.81 


16.91 


Image 


10.21 


12.35 


7.91 


Entire add 


6.44 


4.26 


4.87 



25 




0 -I — — i — — i — — i — 
0 0.5 1 1.5 

BAC 

FIGURE 2 | Effects of blood alcohol concentration on fixation count to 
ad elements. 



In more popular terms consuming one or two beers diminishes 
the probability of brand recall from 40 to 36% while being heavily 
intoxicated further diminishes the probability of brand recall to 
17%. 

DISCUSSION 

Study 2 examined the effects of alcohol intoxication on atten- 
tion to advertising under a voluntary exposure paradigm which, 
compared to Study 1, more realistically simulates real world ad 
exposure. The results suggest that alcohol intoxication changes 



Table 5 | Effect of alcohol intoxication on brand recall controlling for 
ad attention capture. 



B Wald x 2 df Significance Goodness-of-fit 



Model 1 


Intercept 


-0.42 


8.26 


1 0.000 


QICC = 


1349 


BAC 


-0.72 


14.10 


1 0.000 






Model 2 


Intercept 


-0.31 


4.62 


1 0.030 


QICC = 


1328 


BAC 


-0.64 


11.72 


1 0.000 






Fixated (no) 


-0.86 


19.48 


1 0.000 






Fixated (yes) 


0 











attention to ads in several ways. First of all, alcohol intoxica- 
tion lowers the likelihood of participants fixating on the ad and 
particularly the logo. This result is in stark contrast to Study 1 
showing an increase in the salience of logos as a result of alco- 
hol intoxication. Since the experimental stimuli were identical 
for the two studies this can only mean that alcohol intoxication 
lead to remarkably different effects on attention under a vol- 
untary versus a forced exposure paradigm. Another interesting 
finding in Study 2 was that text elements received more fixations 
under alcohol intoxication. This, however, does not mean that 
intoxicated participants read more of the text than sober par- 
ticipants. More likely, intoxicated participants need additional 
fixations to process the same amount of text due to impairments 
in conceptual processing. Most importantly, Study 2 showed that 
alcohol intoxication has a strong negative effect on brand recall 
even when controlling for ad attention capture. The analysis also 
revealed that the detrimental effect of alcohol intoxication on 
brand recall is partially mediated by the diminished attention 
capture. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION 
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS 

Study 1 found that alcohol intoxication leads to a significant 
increase in the visual salience of logos compared to other ad ele- 
ments. The result is in line with psychopharmacological findings 
on the effect of alcohol intoxication on cognitive processing. The 
increased salience of logos occurred regardless of the ad composi- 
tion and did not affect other perceptual ad elements like pictorial 
representations. However, these results were obtained in a forced 
exposure paradigm and we decided to conduct a second experi- 
ment to assess the effect of alcohol intoxication in a more realistic 
voluntary exposure paradigm. 

Study 2 examined attention to ads in a voluntary exposure 
paradigm and found that alcohol intoxication had a negative effect 
on fixation likelihood for the ad as a whole and for each individ- 
ual add element. While diminishing the overall attention capture 
for all ad elements alcohol intoxication increased the number of 
fixations to the text element which could suggest that intoxicated 
participants needed more fixations in order to process the text. 
Furthermore, alcohol intoxication had a strong negative impact 
on subsequent brand recall which means that a high degree of 
alcohol intoxication diminishes brand recall by more than 50%. 



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Attention to advertising under alcohol intoxication 



Interestingly, the two studies demonstrate that alcohol intoxi- 
cation can lead to dramatically different outcomes depending on 
whether ad exposure is forced or voluntary. In the forced expo- 
sure condition alcohol intoxication increases the salience of the 
logos which is generally beneficial for the advertiser. However, in 
the voluntary exposure condition alcohol intoxication leads to a 
significant decrease in the overall attention to ad elements which 
is detrimental the effectiveness of advertising. 

MANAGERIAL AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS 

From a managerial perspective our results lead us to the conclusion 
that advertising under licensed premises should constrain itself 
to the use of reminder ads intended to increase the accessibil- 
ity of the brand or product. The main reason for this suggestion 
is that alcohol intoxication impairs conceptual processing of ads 
which limits the probabilities of persuasion through central route 
argumentation (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986). It also appears that 
alcohol intoxication increases the visual salience of logos but only 
under forced exposure. Under a voluntary exposure paradigm with 
many visual distractors (in this case magazine articles) alcohol 
intoxication actually diminishes the likelihood of fixating the ad 
and the logo. One consideration for advertising under licensed 
premises would therefore be the degree to which one can con- 
trol distractors in the environment. One clever strategy which has 
become popular in many bars is placing ads directly above uri- 
nals which, one could argue, is as close as one can get to forced 
exposure. 

Another consideration is that the advertised product should 
furthermore be for immediate consumption since brand recall 
will diminish considerably as a function of alcohol intoxication. 
Using advertising under licensed premises for consumer learning 
of for instance new products would therefore have to consider 
the extra expenditure to reach the same degree of consumer 
learning. 

From an ethical perspective the present research solves one 
issue but raises another. Importantly, there were no indications 
that alcohol intoxication led to extra influences of advertis- 
ing on consumers. On the contrary, alcohol intoxication was 
found to impair conceptual processing of ads as well as recall 
for the advertised brands which necessarily lowers the effects 
of persuasion attempts. On the other hand, it was demon- 
strated that alcohol intoxication under some conditions increases 
the visual salience of logos which could be used for increasing 
the accessibility of products for immediate consumption. This 
could be problematic if advertising under licensed premises for 
products like alcohol or cigarettes lead to an increased con- 
sumption of these products, but the enhanced impact idea 
could also be used for advertising of cab services or protection 
against sexually transmitted diseases. The issue is particularly 
important since other studies have suggested that intoxicated 
people respond stronger than sober people both to irresponsi- 
ble short-term incentives as well as more prudent long-term goals 
(MacDonald et al., 2000). 

LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH 

One of the main limitations to our studies is the fact that all data 
collection took place in a lab environment. This naturally limits 



the external validity of the results and an important step for future 
research would therefore be to study attention to ads in more 
natural environments. 

Another important limitation in both studies stems from the 
decision to measure rather than manipulate the BAC. Our decision 
to measure BAC rather than manipulate it was based on ethical 
considerations. However, choosing this approach we had to con- 
tend with the fact that participants were not randomly assigned 
to experimental conditions. It is easy to imagine that some par- 
ticipants are more likely to engage in alcohol consumption and 
that this tendency could be correlated with other traits that could 
have influenced the experimental results. Furthermore, because 
participants were recruited in a student club it was impossible 
to control for exposure to nicotine which has been shown to 
influence attention (Bekker etal., 2005). Future research should 
ideally take these issues into consideration in designing experi- 
ments both aiming for high external validity using methods such as 
mobile eye tracking yet avoiding threats to internal validity such as 
possibly non-random assignment of participants to experimental 
conditions and control over exposure to other stimulants. 

AUTHOR NOTE 

Parts of this article are taken from abstracts presented in the 
39th EMAC Conference (Jeppesen and Scholderer, 2010) and the 
Conference on APA Convention (Orquin et al, 2013b). 

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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted 
in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed 
as a potential conflict of interest. 

Received: 11 November 2013; accepted: 24 February 2014; published online: 25 March 
2014. 

Citation: Orquin JL, Jeppesen HB, Scholderer J and Haugtvedt C (2014) Attention to 
advertising and memory for brands under alcohol intoxication. Front. Psychol. 5:212. 
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00212 

This article was submitted to Cognition, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. 
Copyright © 2014 Orquin, Jeppesen, Scholderer and Haugtvedt. This is an open- 
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reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. 



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